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On the first Friday of each month at 7:30am, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases information on the workforce in America. This is often referred to as the “Unemployment Number”. Because of the upcoming policital elections, much has been made of the level of unemployment in the U.S.. Conventional wisdom is that no incumbent president gets re-elected if unemployment is above 7.2%. Yet unemployment has remained above 8% since February of 2009, the longest stretch since World War II.
Today the BLS announced that headline unemployment is 8.1% down from 8.3% last month - closer, but still not breaking the streak of 8%+ unemployment. But considering that we have gradually been dropping from the highwater mark of 10% in October of 2009 we are heading in the right direction, right? Wrong.
To get behind the numbers, one must understand that the headline unemployment number consists those who are unemployed and seeking a job. Another BLS statistic contained in the same report is called “U-6 unemployment” which takes into consideration all unemployed, part time workers and those who have simply given up looking for work. U-6 typically runs 400 basis points above the headline unemployment (i.e. our U-6 should be about 12.1%). Since the recession, U-6 has been closer to 700 basis points above the headline indicating that our labor problem is even bigger than it appears on the surface.
Instead of looking at unemployment, let’s look at employment instead. Because that’s what really matter. How many people are actually working. Here is a graph from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louisthat shows what percentage of our population is currently employed.
Clearly the labor situation is not improving.
By watching the employment report released today, we see that 96,000 people got new jobs this past month. But the numbers for both July and June were simultaneously revised down by the goverment so that over the last three months combined, we actually lost 41,000 jobs. Not good.
So if we are losing jobs, U-6 employment is much higher than it should be, and the lowest percentage of our population is working in 20 years, why does it look like our unemployment situation is getting better, going from 8.3% down to 8.1%? As noted above, the headline number only takes into consideration those looking for work. It tells us that more of the unemployed have simply given up trying to get a job. It is a quirky statistic that what appears to be declining unemployment is actually ppeople giving up hope of finding a job.
That’s a look behind the numbers.
Greg Wilson graduated from Penn in 1992. After working on Wall Street in the early 1990s, he was an interest rate trader on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade until 2002 when he returned to Paris. Greg heads up business development for Lamar National Bank.
Erik Roddy, City President for Capital One Bank in Paris, presented Red River Regional Business Incubator (R3bi) Director Fred Green with a check for $3,000 matching the bank’s 2011 contribution to the incubator. Capital One joins Kimberly Clark, Harrison Walker & Harper and Oncor Electric Delivery as 2012 Silver Sponsors.
In a statement by Roddy, he said, “Capital One Bank is pleased to present a $3,000 grant to R3bi. We’re proud to work with an organization like R3bi that creates programs to recruit, train, and nurture entrepreneurial talent to encourage the growth of sustainable businesses. These programs allow small business customers a resource for education regarding running a business, and one of the ways we’re helping to make this community stronger is through innovative partnerships with local organizations and programs that support small businesses.
“Capital One Bank is a proud member of the Paris community, and we constantly look for ways to make a positive difference in the area. Whether it’s inside our local branches or out in the neighborhood, Capital One Bank is deeply committed to “Investing for Good” in Paris, connecting our people and financial resources to advance education, financial literacy, and small business and workforce development.
“We are honored to be a leading corporate citizen in Paris and a top provider of banking products and services to individuals and businesses across the region. We work hard to positively impact the communities and neighborhoods we serve, and we’re very pleased to partner with the Red River Region Business Incubator again this year.”
R3bi is the entrepreneurial element of economic development in Paris and the surrounding region. R3bi supports new business start ups and early stage business success through mentoring and business skills development. The services of the incubator are made possible by continued financial support of the Paris Economic Development Corporation and the twenty-one local business sponsors for 2012.
Bring your lunch and get ready to learn the secrets of time, and how to master its management for ultimate productivity.
Time is life. Time is irreversible and irreplaceable. To use time inefficiently is to waste your life, but to master time is to master your life and make the most of it.
If you have ever thought “I have so much to do, there is just not enough time for me to do it all,” then you need to hear this month’s Brown Bag Seminar. Take the TIME to come by for “The Secret of Productivity–TIME!”
Red River Region Business Incubator — 1445 Clarksville St. Paris, TX
Chamber Chairman, Jon Landers, Guaranty Board Members, Brad Drake, George Young and Josh Bray, and Paris Branch President, Kenny Dority, ‘break ground’ with golden shovels on Wednesday in celebration of Guaranty Bond Bank’s new location on the loop.
The Chamber of Commerce held a Ground Breaking Ceremony for Guaranty Bond Bank — celebrating the contruction beginnning on their new location – on Wednesday, August 29.
Often known as ‘the relationship bank’, Guaranty has been serving Northeast Texas for almost 100 years, with locations in Paris, Texarkana, Sulphur Springs, Bogata, Commerce, Atlanta, Pittsburg, New Boston, and it’s corporate headquarters in Mt. Pleasant, where the bank was started in 1913.
This new branch of Guaranty will be located at 2105 NE Loop 286, in front of Tractor Supply Company, where dirt work and construction to the frame has already begun.
Chamber Ambassador, Rhonda Rogers, made a speech at the Ground Breaking Ceremony and said that this is an excellent addition to the town of Paris and this new location, being so close to the homes and neighborhoods on FM 195, where many of Guaranty’s customers live, will be great.
Representatives from the corporate headquarters in Mt. Pleasant also came to the Ground Breaking and gave a speech to congratulate the Paris branch on their growth and new location.
Guaranty Paris Branch President, Kenny Dority, spoke at the ceremony to say that the growth of the bank and the new location is all a result of Guaranty’s growing and loyal customer base.
“Many people do not know the importance of good customer relationships in banking,” he stated.
Dority also recognized CEO, Ty Abston, all the employees of Guaranty, members of the Mt. Pleasant branch, Guaranty Board Members, and Chamber Chairman, Jon Landers.
Due to breezy winds and consistent traffic driving by on the loop to the south of the gathering, it was very difficult to hear all the words the speakers were saying.
This appears to be a good thing for the soon-to-be added Guaranty bank on the loop.
“This is a good location. As I’m talking right now, it’s hard to hear me due to all the traffic here,” Dority said in closing.
Article & Photography by Josh Allen/Managing Editor
It’s hard to say just when ground will break for Triton’s manufacturing center but when it does, Paris will be home to some cutting-edge biotechnology.
“It looks real positive. It’s a big opportunity,” Paris Economic Development Corp. Director Steve Gilbert told a small crowd gathered at Love Civic Center to hear from some of the people behind what has so far been mostly known as Project Jewel. “I think we’re lucky to have these folks looking at us, because they could probably go anywhere.”
Triton will manufacture a protein known as milk amyloid A, frequently just called MAA. Which is fitting, since it’s found in mother’s milk. Except the stuff Triton’s making is coming out of algae.
“The benefit of this is this is such a simple product. It’s mother’s milk,” Dr. Jason Pyle said. “We’re producing a synthetic version. There’s a market for it right now.”
MAA stimulates mucus production in the gut, which helps to shield against bacterial and viral infection. It can be used to help create milk replacer for cows — a field that has not seen any new development in years, Dr. Bill Julien said. A veterinarian, Julien has long worked in the biotechnology field and currently serves as president of Biovance Technologies.
“I’m a mercenary. I smelled money,” he said. “The potential use of this protein is much broader than what we’re talking about today.”
It could help prevent mortality in livestock. It could be used in conjunction with existing drugs that haven’t been very effective to make them more efficient.
There are also potential human applications. One of the world’s biggest killers is dysentery in third-world countries. A cheap source of MAA could help get that under control. Julien also sees it potentially acting as a supplement for treatments for intestinal problems like cancer or Crohn’s disease. It may even have over-the-counter uses.
“You could take this prior to going out to dinner,” he said. “If there is bad guacamole, you won’t have the adverse reactions.”
Pharmaceutical companies already make such complex proteins at great cost and effort. Getting algae to do the work for you drops the difficulty and cost dramatically.
“If you made it as a pharmaceutical, there’s no way a farmer could afford to use it,” Pyle said. “If you grow it in algae, it’s thousands of times cheaper.”
Algae is a type of plant. The species includes kelp, but much of it is single-celled. And it can be relatively easily manipulated to produce all sorts of things, from oil to vaccines to industrial-grade enzymes.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity to make therapeutic proteins in algae,” said Dr. Stephen Mayfield, director of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology. “Because it’s agricultural, that means you have the ability to go to a very large scale and do it economically.”
Mayfield has worked with algae for 25 years, including biomedical research. He started Rincon Pharmaceutical to make human proteins for therapeutic uses from algae. The traditional method for such complex proteins is to use Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, but it costs much more than using algae. An effort in 2006 to seek funding to expand Rincon led to the creation of Sapphire Energy, a biofuel company.
Sapphire now has more than 200 employees with research facilities in San Diego and production in New Mexico. Pyle, who described himself as a “serial biotech entrepreneur,” is a co-founder of the company, established to make jet fuel, which can be difficult to refine from oil. Its work in New Mexico has yielded enormous amounts of production.
The effort in Paris will be much the same. But where Sapphire Energy spent $30 million to $40 million learning how to get the job done, those lessons mean the cost to set up here will be less — more like $10 million, Pyle said.
There were things about New Mexico that Sapphire didn’t want to repeat with Triton. Algae “farming” is a lot like rice farming and requires standing water, which can be difficult to obtain in the desert. Also, the arid climate leads to a lot of water evaporation. The desert also has high temperature swings — more than 100 during the day to the 40s at night — that can be hard on algae.
On the other hand, Paris is more humid, has readily available water and the temperatures are more stable. Even winter is typically warmer than in the high desert.
Triton has received a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation for animal trials. Pig trials are expected within the next couple of weeks since pigs have many physiological similarities to humans.
“The beauty of this is we already know it works,” Julien said. “This experiment is to validate the delivery system.”
The company has a roughly three-year schedule to develop what Pyle said will be one of the most sophisticated algae production facilities in the world.
“We haven’t picked a site yet, but we looked at some nice locations today,” he said.
Triton is expected to bring 312 new jobs and $36.3 million in capital investment to Paris over a five-year period. Based on their experience with Sapphire Energy, Triton will mostly need production technicians. They have found that skills found in agricultural technicians and wastewater treatment personnel transfer well to their efforts.
“There’s some time before that starts to happen,” Gilbert said. “It takes a lot of time for these things to come forward.”
There are still some things up in the air. Triton needs the marketing study to know exactly how big to build and how fast. There’s also still the detail of finding a suitable site. Once it’s rolling, Pyle said Triton could likely get on the ground, start manufacturing and sell its first product in the same year.
“It’s easy to pick a region,” Pyle said. “It’s hard to pick a specific site. So many little, tiny things matter.”
PEDC has agreed to work with Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) and Texas Engineering Extension
Services (TEEX) to complete a market analysis and site and facilities plan for the project. In all, PEDC has agreed to spend up to $250,000 for the project.
PEDC got involved as Gilbert talked with Mark Lacek at Paris Milling about expanding facilities there. Gilbert met Julien and talked to him about Paris Milling’s project, which lead to a discussion about PEDC’s plans and resources.
Triton fits squarely within PEDC’s plan to target companies that would be a good fit in Paris, particularly agribusiness.
“We’ve got a long history of industry and agriculture,” Gilbert said. “This company is both of those.”